December 27, 2017

Foreign steel flooding in more under GOP govt: No signs of re-alignment

We've already seen that trade deficits are widening under total GOP rule, contra the campaign goals that won the White House for the not-very-Republican candidate Trump. Now comes news that for one key industry in particular, steel, the situation has gotten dramatically worse.

For the first 10 months of the Trump presidency, steel imports have shot up nearly 20% compared to the same period of 2016. So much for wanting to keep Pennsylvania steelworkers in the coalition.

As with widening trade deficits, expanding military missions and footprints, and an immigration plan to amnesty the DACA people in exchange for "border security" instead of a solid wall and mass deportations, the clobbering of the steel industry shows that we should start using quote marks when describing the "Trump" presidency.

It is exactly what you'd expect from any other generic Republican administration that had control of Congress to boot. Trump is only one man with almost no supporters in the government or in the elite sectors of the economy. We sent him as our negotiator, but they refuse to compromise with our demands.

Without any leverage in DC itself, we his supporters are his only leverage. But he has decided not to whip us up into a collective action as he did when he held rallies to get out the vote and defeat the crooks and traitors at the ballot box.

And in the over six months since I first made that observation, his popularity and support has continued to fall among independents and other non-traditional Republicans. By now, there are a handful of Trump die-hards who would still show up and wage battle if he were to lead them, but it's mostly the same ol' Republican base who are most enthusiastic at this Ted Cruz type presidency.

He could get some help from across the aisle, but he does not call the shots like an emperor, and does not control the overall agenda or who will be part of the deal. That is decided by the elite factions that control the GOP.

“I think the White House is immobilized, because they have such a cacophony of voices,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio who describes himself as an ally of the president on trade. “This administration doesn’t seem to know what it thinks about trade.”

The uphill battle within "their own" party that Trump and Commerce Secretary Ross are fighting against steel imports will be taken up in another post, as that gets into the more general discussion of which economic sectors control the Dems vs. the GOP, and what their motives are when in control of the government.

For now, just consider how ridiculous it is for the "populist re-alignment" theory that it's a Democrat Senator sticking his neck out for Trump on steel imports, when his party is possessed by such a hysterical witch hunt against the President. Let's list all those Republican Senators who have altered their policies to match the Trump movement and called for stiff tariffs on foreign steel...

And even if we had a few, that would not be different from the George W. Bush administration, who did manage to implement a tariff on steel for a brief moment in 2002-'03 before it bent the knee to the World Trade Organization and called it off.

If this administration does no better than the George W. Bush presidency on steel tariffs, that will be the end of re-alignment discussion for this term at least.

16 comments:

  1. Thoughts On Power12/27/17, 5:05 PM

    Not to harp on this but I don't see politics meaning anything but representation for business.

    The USA was founded on revolt by merchant princes to get more money. It's no surprise that this happens, it's more of the same.

    Trump is merchant caste. He's manipulating people as instinctively as breathing. Generation X bloggers like Keoni Galt and Aaron Clarey all called his actions right long ago.

    Trump would have had to fire half the government and call in people across the country to take over.

    Politics is representational. It doesn't cause much of anything. Once in a great while you get a fluke and then the entire system contracts against that fluke for generations.

    This is the nature of power now. I would say try to find an alternative to regular politics. It's just not going to fly in time. And that goes x10 if you care about heritage America.

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  2. It does take a village.....

    Seems like even the "New Right" fell for the "head of the snake" fallacy, and some still don't understand what we're dealing with. Leaders are figure heads for movements and ideas that are at least tolerated, if not fully respected, by elites. It doesn't really matter how wealthy, charismatic, populist etc. a leader is; being the head of the snake doesn't automatically confer control over the rest of the body, and if the rest of the body won't listen to the head, then the head doesn't matter all that much.

    There's nothing that really can be done (*by us*) to divert the course of 2 1/2 generations of elites not doing a damn thing to kick the addiction to neo-liberal capitalism, Pax Americana, and dieversity. Too many status and financial benefits have been awarded, too few punishments for corruption have been meted out. This isn't the 1960's, this isn't even the 30's. It's more like the 1860's, when elites and near elites bickered and moralized instead of doing what was in the best interest of everyone; and by everyone, I mean everyone, not just partisans or culture warriors.

    Where are the heroes? All's I see is about 30-40% of people being stubborn partisan mascots, while the other 60-70% is fed up with the whole situation but doesn't know when or if anything will really change.

    "amnesty the DACA people in exchange for "border security" instead of a solid wall and mass deportations"

    In that case, the populist Right and anti-immigration interest groups need to be festooning the internet, and deluging their congressman and the White House switchboards, with articles and memes regarding previous "deals" that were welshed on, when the GOP could be bothered to do anything at all WRT immigration. Like the employment provisions/sanctions of the '86 immigration act being ignored. Laws and regulations are just words on paper and on screens. It's the manner in which they're interpreted, and in which they're enforced, that counts.

    WRT idea of holding rallies, elites hold the commoners in contempt (as a general rule). And if these rallies reached sufficient size or strength, the Left and the globalists (to whom most Right elites are beholden) would sic the anti-fa legions, who'd have carte blanche to terrorize Right populists.

    In previous moments of turmoil (the 60's, the earlier 1900's), a sizable number of elites stood for order and playing fair. It's clear that right now, that the majority of elites on either side both play for the same decadent and pan-national multi-cult globalist team. The Charlottesville rally that was intended to honor Southern history got hi-jacked by media promoted Neo-Nazis which gave the PC crowd and the authorities in excuse to promote chaos and Leftwing mob violence. Subsequent to that, much imagery and icons associated with "pro-slavery" white men was attacked. And none of this was greeted with horror or even derision from cuck inc. who call the shots that really matter (e.g., they've got a seat at the oh so corporate board room that sets the parameters of public discourse and argument).

    Anyone can be a paying customer, a "consumer" (not a citizen, or a subject). Can't say or do anything that would hurt the size of your customer base....Our countries don't belong to us anymore. The Silents and Boomers never wanted any nation to ever again become a machine in which everyone becomes a cog working towards a common goal centered around ethnic and national identity. So nearly all Western countries are busy obliterating thousands of years of ethnic identity and pride, in favor of lining their pockets and "advancing" beyond the dreaded past. Every passing decade, we lose more. There are things you could say and do even in the 90's that can now get you fired, and in some countries, arrested.

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  3. "Trump is merchant caste. He's manipulating people as instinctively as breathing. Generation X bloggers like Keoni Galt and Aaron Clarey all called his actions right long ago."

    Trump said a lot of populist things for years, things that the yuppie class didn't approve of. And in the process of doing so, he lost much yuppie support and he'll never get it back (people with Mexican nannies and gardeners don't want to be reminded that our immigration practices allow MS-13ers to move almost at will between America and Mexico).

    And as this blog has taken pains to point out, Trump himself has avoided some of the most skeezy aspects of contemporary modern business practices (like encouraging stock market gambling). Whereas guys like GW Bush and Mitt Romney were total corporate whores throughout their lives. Trump got a lot mileage out of being a builder, and he was the first GOP candidate since Reagan who seemed to be as at ease with blue collars as he was with professionals.

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  4. "Business" is misleading -- the military is a major faction in the elite power struggle, and they're not a business as that term describes other factions like oil, agriculture, finance, the media, etc.

    It's leverage over the other factions that allows one faction to rise to a position of permanent influence. And having a monopoly on the legitimate use of collective violence -- is one hell of a piece of leverage.

    Other factions control the flow of food, the flow of money, the flow of energy, the flow of information. The military controls the flow of force. Where it goes, in what amounts, toward what ends.

    "Business" or "merchant" is also misleading because it makes it sound like it's all about money -- that it's the enormous wealth of these factions that allows them to control the government.

    But it's really the other way around: the monopoly over the flow of some critical societal resource gives a faction not only influence over the government, but also enormous wealth.

    Trump represents none of the power factions -- military, finance, etc. -- which punctures the clever-silly narrative than someone who sacrificed immense wealth to champion populist policies is a crypto-elitist.

    It also reveals how weak he is institutionally -- the only level that matters for big-level policy. He wanted to up-end the status quo for just about every power faction in the economy that controls the government.

    Especially the military -- quit NATO qua NATO, no regime change, defense of core nation primarily, no life support to failed imperialism, spend less on and demand more from suppliers and contractors. The military purged Trump's military-related supporters first and fastest, starting with Flynn.

    Without the backing of any of these power factions, he had two choices: 1) continue the populist insurgency against all elite factions, and call on his supporters to crank up the heat collectively; or 2) seek protection from one of the elite factions, in exchange for advancing their interests, even if it conflicted with the populist campaign.

    For now, he's decided to follow option 2. It shows how much he is in survival mode -- get protected first, then maybe get around to populist campaign goals.

    I don't see a radical change, where he goes back to fighting these elite factions, unless they're from the opposition party. Attack the media, mostly, not so much Silicon Valley or let alone Wall Street.

    Unless he wants to rally the troops again, it looks like the term will be characterized by becoming the figurehead and cheerleader for the standard GOP agenda, in exchange for them calling off their greater-than-half of the attack dogs in the witch hunt and impeachment threat.

    The next one we send into the White House has to have more institutional backing, so that he can't get so easily out-maneuvered by the big institutional power groups.

    But even that will be more of a coup within that elite faction, akin to General Flynn re-orienting the flow of force away from the Cold War and toward the War on Jihadism, which would have called a truce with our former nemesis and put in the crosshairs our contemporary #1 ally, Saudi Arabia.

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  5. And if "business" controls the government, why is steel getting so fucked over?

    Because there is no homogeneous business class -- societal control requires leverage, and the best kind of leverage is something that you have a monopoly on, and others cannot easily steal or imitate.

    If it were just wealth, or money, any rich person could buy enormous influence. Trump could have just spent $5 billion on whoever became President / Speaker of the House / Supreme Court Justice, and not have to run for office.

    But money is a fungible resource -- nobody has a monopoly over it. The *flow* of money, yes -- finance. But not the amount of money out there. That lies in all sorts of different hands, and does not bring together a group of people with common interests.

    The steel industry has not been brought into the coalition of factions for either the Dems or the Repubs because they do not deliver a critical voting bloc. Pennsylvania is not a deep blue or deep red state, so they don't get rewarded very much by whoever wins.

    Military bases deliver the South to the military-aligned party -- used to be the Dems, now the Repubs. Large-scale farms deliver the agricultural subsidizers -- now the Repubs. Banks deliver the financial nexus along the Bos-Wash Corridor. New-age tech, the West Coast.

    Industrial commodities like steel don't deliver any stalwart voting bloc or state. Despite being a major business, their interests are not reflect in policy, as they keep getting clobbered by laissez-faire trade with China.

    That's one of the big institutional players who should be recruited to play a crucial role in the new era of populism and nationalism.

    The only question is whose coalition will be least disturbed by the addition of a steel industry demanding tariffs on cheap Chinese steel -- and the answer is, the Democrats. GOP factions use steel more than Democrat factions do, so their material interests will be harmed more by allying with steel.

    Democrat factions don't have a natural affinity for steel, but they are not inherently threatened by protectionism for steel. And a thriving steel industry could turn Pennsylvania deep blue -- with a yuge Electoral College haul, no less.

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  6. Everybody needs a refresher on the dominant factions in our politics. Ignorant of that, we'll always descend into either snake head scapegoating/crediting, or perhaps even worse, tribal partisan bickering.

    Everywhere I look or listen, it's BS about Trump being either the worst person to ever live (an honor that seems to get passed from one Republican to another in the post-1970 era of American decline) or a conquering hero (what has he conquered after coming into office?). Team Democrat blows smoke about being "the good guys" leading a "resistance" (this after Obama was a spectacular failure at reining in our excesses). It really is that crude and childish; we can't rise above the most simplistic and arrogant terms of debate and judgement. You just wanna tell the partisans to shut the hell up, since they're the main problem at work, seeing as how they often fail to even acknowledge their side's flaws, let alone try to correct them.

    And just as older people were the biggest showboating trash talkers in the civil war era, so too is that the case now. There really is a transition between about 1971-1976, from older and tendentious partisans to more modest and even-handed younger people. People born in the 60's seem to be lost cause.

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  7. off-topic, but they are talking about the crime rate again:

    "But criminologists differ about the cause of the continued declines. Mr. Zimring said that while better policing accounted for much of the decline in crime since 1990, it was no longer a primary driver. New York is “tiptoeing” toward a 90 percent crime decline for reasons that remain “utterly mysterious,” he said."

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/27/nyregion/new-york-city-crime-2017.html

    I hope you get credit for your profound work on cocooning theory and how crime rate effects culture.

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  8. I don't care about credit or fame, I only want to get paid good money for figuring stuff out -- and academia today is an utter joke, where you get hired and paid based on

    1) Sucking up federal grant funds, regardless of whether they'll be used for something promising or retarded

    2) Putting butts in seats for your classes in order to raise tuition revenues, rather than teaching, and

    3) Getting a highly cited article into a highly cited journal, regardless of whether or not you were right.

    None of it has to do with whether you've figured anything out, whether you're telling the truth, whether it's original, insightful, or whatever else.

    You can lie, fabricate data, throw unfavorable results into the file drawer, jump on fashionable bandwagons, or best of all just write a review article (highly cite-able) AKA a glorified book report.

    There has been an enormous over-production of elites in the academic sector, and too many status-striving Boomers who are clogging the arteries and refuse to retire long after having come up with anything useful.

    Journalism and publishing is even worse than academia on these measures.

    You have to come from a wealthy family line in order to have enough fuck-you money to write for a living, tell the truth, and get it widely published -- and none of my grandparents went to college.

    My realistic goal now is to, at some point, write things up in order for future audiences to discover it, however long it will take them to stumble upon it. There's simply no way to write for contemporary audiences and get paid enough to avoid starvation and homelessness (unless your family is well-to-do, or you're the 1 in a million exception).

    The upside is that it will be more truthful, not just telling a clearly defined audience what they want to hear, like some performer or entertainer.

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  9. That goes doubly for any research into crime -- it is such a hot-button topic, there's almost no way to avoid it being written for contemporary audiences to tell them what they want to hear.

    Either why the liberal view and policies are correct, or why the conservative view and policies are correct.

    Crime rate trends are de-coupled from economic trends, so there goes the standard liberal view about absolute poverty levels, inequality, etc.

    But crime rates have nothing to do with who's in office, and if anything show Democrats presiding over falling-crime periods and Republicans over rising-crime periods.

    But the dumb liberals are wrong about causality there -- Republican dominance follows rising crime rates, in response to them, as voters perceive R's to be tougher on crime. Democrat dominance comes as crime rates fall, since crime is less of a pressing issue anymore, so why bother voting for the tough-on-crime party?

    Policing has nothing to do with trends on the order of decades, although obviously they could explain cross-sectional differences between a failed state with no police vs. a healthy state with functioning police.

    Zimring was good at pointing that out in his book, using Canada as a counter-point. They saw the same decline in crime that the whole Western world did, from the early '90s through today -- but they had *fewer* police per capita during this change, not *more*.

    Incarceration rates don't predict falling crime rates. You have to look through multiple cycles to see that, like going back to the early 1900s.

    The only factor that criminologists discuss that is real, is changes in the age structure -- a bulge in the young adult section predicts rising crime, for understandable reasons.

    But that is the only factor that is never covered in any detail by the media, politicians, commenters on the internet, or whoever else. It's too boring, too intuitive, and too non-partisan and apolitical. The chattering classes want the data to just give them some damn red meat.

    My cocooning vs. outgoing factor will go over like a lead balloon with them for the same reasons. Where's the political red meat in that? What a gyp!

    To really write about this topic, you have to imagine writing for a more sober audience that is not so politically psychotic and polarized like they are today.

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  10. Thoughts On Power12/29/17, 11:32 AM

    "But even that will be more of a coup within that elite faction"

    Whatever the appearance may be it will be an old style coup in substance. Military rule comes after merchant rule and banker collapse.

    Agnostic, you could set up or join a protectionist trade advocacy organization. Network among all interested parties, bring them together, and write your deep analytic pieces on the power of protectionism. Who represents national steel makers at a time like this?

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  11. Thoughts On Power12/29/17, 11:38 AM

    Politics has become sports teams.

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  12. Reminder that all these "manufacturing growth" stories say the opposite on employment. The output of the manufacturing sector -- "activity" -- has been rising for decades, but employment has been plummeting.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-milwaukee-ism/u-s-upper-midwest-factory-sector-grows-fastest-in-three-years-idUSKBN1EN19G

    A good chunk of the factories that are still here are the ones that are able to be more automated. This is easiest when making a commodity or homogeneous substance, rather than assembling a complicated device. Making cardboard boxes as opposed to clocks, for example.

    The factories that could not be automated -- most of them -- relocated to cheap-labor countries.

    For populism, manufacturing matters to the extent that it employs Americans and pays them good wages. Not to the extent that it cranks out stuff while not employing anyone or paying them shit.

    Important to keep in mind, as the media and rationalizers and cheerleaders will try to play up these reports, when they show the state of manufacturing *employment* still getting worse.

    The reports themselves hide that fact at the very end, and the rationalizers will not even mention it at all.

    What we need to hear is that factories are coming back from abroad, hiring lots of Americans full-time, and paying them good wages.

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  13. You saw the same sleight-of-hand when Trump was trying to hype up the tax cut bill, pointing to how corporations can deduct the full cost of buying new "equipment".

    That may improve the mechanical part of a factory, but it will not employ more workers or pay them higher wages. It's going to benefit factories that are more automated and less labor-intensive.

    If the GOP had been serious about corporate tax cuts delivering benefits to the working and middle class, they should have been conditions which if not met, would mean no tax cut for you.

    For every new full-time job you create and fill, you get an incremental tax break.

    For every dollar per hour you raise the average wage for workers currently making under $100K, you get an incremental tax break.

    Corporations that don't hire more people, or don't employ them full-time, or don't raise wages, get absolutely nothing. Those who support the American working / middle class, get a reward.

    Ideally we start with the stick of tariffs, but if there's only going to be carrots in a tax bill, they need to be conditional. Otherwise we know the greedy pigs are just going to take the money and run.

    No one's fooled about that either. When my brother and I were visiting my apolitical dad for Christmas, the topic came up and he griped, "Yeah, it's just going to go to management bonuses."

    He voted Trump in the primary and general, and he lives in an urban county in Ohio that flipped red for the first time since the 1980s.

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  14. In the "no-duh" file.....

    People are ticked off right now because the system isn't listening to them. The supposed recovery/growth period of the 2010's is nothing of the kind. People know they've been screwed, and the system is running out of Boomer defenders and is eventually going to be staring down the barrel of a gun leveled by Millennials and Gen Z who did not benefit one bit from any of the prosperity of the post-WW2 era. Partisan morons will continue to mindlessly cheerlead for their team, but the lion's share of the population knows the score.

    If the majority of the population truly felt good about what was happening, then the mood would be analogous to the mid-80's, or the 1950's. When the system (e.g., elites) drops the ball, the public lets them know it. People were surly in the early 90's (when it became clear that we were losing ground and elites didn't seem to care), as they also were in the very late 60's and early 70's (when Vietnam and seemingly endless civil unrest exposed how clueless some of our leaders were).

    The civil war and it's immediate aftermath were low points of the national psyche, and not just for the obvious reasons. People intuitively knew that most elites were too busy bickering and posturing at that time to really fix many problems, which became so much uncleared dry brush and rotting trees that eventually ignited in a national calamity. Sound familiar? Many elites these days posture against immigration controls, under any number of guises (the Constitution, not hurting anyone's feelings, GDP, whatever). They should be debating the degree of control, not attacking the very concept of control. The public gave them a mulligan back in the 90's (when most of the population was still native born) and even the 2000's (when "national security" measures were being implemented and their degree of success wasn't as yet established), but as of the mid-2010's working class Americans overwhelmingly are sick and tired of America being a cheap labor dumping ground. But how many elites are listening to us?

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  15. Feryl, if you're interested, I emailed Neil Howe asking about oscillations between conservative and liberal politics, and he said it happens about once every 20 years - the Awakening and Crisis being liberal, the Unraveling and the High being conservative(economically speaking).

    "On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 12:38 PM

    Hi, I am a big fan of your important work. I am interested in how conservative and liberal politics oscillate between each other.

    You've said in a chart in your book("The Fourth Turning") that economic growth tends to go in 20-year cycles, roughly. The Awakening and the Crisis are typically periods of economic slowdown; whereas the High and the Unraveling are periods of economic growth.

    Generally, it seems that the government tends to pursue conservative policies when the economy is doing well, liberal policies when it is doing poorly. I see the Awakening and Crisis as being periods when liberal economic policies were mostly pursued, and the High and the Unraveling as periods when conservative economic policies were pursued."

    "Curtis: Yes, as an overall description, I think that's accurate. --Neil"

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  16. Twenty years is too short a time for different economic epochs. Also, we transition in and out of them pretty gradually, unlike what partisan critics would have you believe (e.g., FDR didn't singlelhandedly create populism, and Reagan didn't invent the current high striving era). WRT the current era, the early signs of trouble came in in the 70's, and then circa 1990 we went full bore into high striving, and only in the last several years have proles begun to check out of the rat race while elites refuse to give it up.

    Culture is not the same thing as economy, and by culture I don't mean liberal or conservative (which are amorphous and subjective categories). The cultural fulcrum of an era is either:
    1) The community (the high, people are peaceful and happy)
    2) The individual (the awakening, people are passionate and hedonistic)
    3) The family (the unraveling, people hunker down and become cynical)
    4) The enemy (the crisis, different factions engage in various actions in order to deal with a problem)

    The nature of how each of the 4 eras plays out has a lot to do with striving, but what determines striving is independent of each era. For example, in the low striving 1940's different ethnic groups, social classes, and regional factions put aside their differences to embrace a common goal of defeating fascism, the success of which fueled efforts to fight communism in the 50'-80's. Due to striving being lower in the 40's-80's, society/elites were able to achieve quite a bit regardless of whether we were in a crisis, a high, or an awakening. Meanwhile, as we currently speak striving has kneecapped the current crop of elites, in addition to a decent chunk of the lower classes. People divide themselves and each other into extremely niche groups and classes, as we no longer seem possible of camaraderie or any widely felt sense of having a common goal. The last time this happened was the mid-late 1800's, itself a period of rising-high striving. Another paralell is that the later 1800's were known for having young people who were directionless and forlorn, often ignored by aging elites. These days people born after circa 1970 (e.g., those who came of age during higher striving) have mostly been shut out of the discourse that really counts, which has been dominated by Silents and Boomers, with a few token early X-er fellow travelers, since the 1990's.

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